Idiot President is Lonely

2 07 2007

An excerpt from The Washington Post:

A President Besieged and Isolated, Yet at Ease
Bush, Grasping for Answers and Fixated on Iraq, Remains Resolute
By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 2, 2007; Page A01

At the nadir of his presidency, George W. Bush is looking for answers. One at a time or in small groups, he summons leading authors, historians, philosophers and theologians to the White House to join him in the search.
Over sodas and sparkling water, he asks his questions: What is the nature of good and evil in the post-Sept. 11 world? What lessons does history have for a president facing the turmoil I’m facing? How will history judge what we’ve done? Why does the rest of the world seem to hate America? Or is it just me they hate?

These are the questions of a president who has endured the most drastic political collapse in a generation. Not generally known for intellectual curiosity, Bush is seeking out those who are, engaging in a philosophical exploration of the currents of history that have swept up his administration. For all the setbacks, he remains unflinching, rarely expressing doubt in his direction, yet trying to understand how he got off course.

These sessions, usually held in the Oval Office or the elegant living areas of the executive mansion, are never listed on the president’s public schedule and remain largely unknown even to many on his staff. To some of those invited to talk, Bush seems alone, isolated by events beyond his control, with trusted advisers taking their leave and erstwhile friends turning on him.

“You think about prime ministers and presidents being surrounded by cabinet officials and aides and so forth,” said Alistair Horne, a British historian who met with Bush recently. “But at the end of the day, they’re alone. They’re lonely. And that’s what occurred to me as I was at the White House. It must be quite difficult for him to get out and about.”

Friends worry about that as well. Burdened by an unrelenting war, challenged by an opposition Congress, defeated just last week on immigration, his last major domestic priority, Bush remains largely locked inside the fortress of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in the seventh year of a presidency turned sour. He still travels, making speeches to friendly audiences and attending summit meetings, such as this weekend’s Kennebunkport talks with President Vladimir Putin of Russia. But he rarely goes out to dinner, and he no longer plays golf, except occasionally chipping at Camp David, where, as at his Texas ranch, he can find refuge.

“I don’t know how he copes with it,” said Donald Burnham Ensenat, a friend for 43 years who just stepped down as State Department protocol officer. Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.), another longtime friend who once worked for Bush, said he looks worn down. “It’s a marked difference in his physical appearance,” Conaway said. “It’s an incredibly heavy load. When you ask men and women to take risks, to send them into war knowing they might not come home, that’s got to be an incredible burden to have on your shoulders.”

Bush is fixated on Iraq, according to friends and advisers. One former aide went to see him recently to discuss various matters, only to find Bush turning the conversation back to Iraq again and again. He recognizes that his presidency hinges on whether Iraq can be turned around in 18 months. “Nothing matters except the war,” said one person close to Bush. “That’s all that matters. The whole thing rides on that.”

And yet Bush does not come across like a man lamenting his plight. In public and in private, according to intimates, he exhibits an inexorable upbeat energy that defies the political storms. Even when he convenes philosophical discussions with scholars, he avoids second-guessing his actions. He still acts as if he were master of the universe, even if the rest of Washington no longer sees him that way.

“You don’t get any feeling of somebody crouching down in the bunker,” said Irwin M. Stelzer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute who was part of one group of scholars who met with Bush. “This is either extraordinary self-confidence or out of touch with reality. I can’t tell you which.”

A Parade of Setbacks

The reality has been daunting by any account. No modern president has experienced such a sustained rejection by the American public. Bush’s approval rating slipped below 50 percent in Washington Post-ABC News polls in January 2005 and has not topped that level in the 30 months since. The last president mired under 50 percent so long was Harry S. Truman. Even Richard M. Nixon did not fall below 50 percent until April 1973, 16 months before he resigned.

The polls reflect the events of Bush’s second term, an unyielding sequence of bad news. Social Security. Hurricane Katrina. Harriet E. Miers. Dubai Ports World. Vice President Cheney’s hunting accident. Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay and Mark Foley. The midterm elections. I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Alberto R. Gonzales and Paul D. Wolfowitz. Immigration. And overshadowing it all, the Iraq war, now longer than the U.S. fight in World War II.

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GOP Stalls House over Earmarks

15 06 2007

The “grand old party” — no longer so grand — has stalled operations in the House of Representatives in a bid to insert more wasteful spending into the budget. Such pork spending exploded since the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994, and was one factor in their electoral defeat in 2006. Nevertheless, these crazy fascists have decided to derail the Congress rather than give up their pet projects. Such earmarks are simply a way to by themselves another term in office, a shameful and degrading act that violates the spirit of their individual mandates. For shame! For shame!

An excerpt from the •San Francisco Chronicle•:

House grinds to a halt in rift over earmarks

Republicans stall Homeland Security spending bill

Edward Epstein, Chronicle Washington Bureau
Thursday, June 14, 2007
(06-14) 04:00 PDT Washington — For the second straight day, minority House Republicans ground the House to a standstill Wednesday as they drove home their objections to a Democratic plan to deny a floor vote on lawmakers’ thousands of pet projects.

Public anger over the surging number of special member projects called earmarks — derided as pork barrel spending — was a factor in the Republicans’ loss of House control last November, GOP members concede, and now they say they’ve gotten religion on the need for openness in government.

Charges of hypocrisy flew in floor speeches as House leaders huddled behind closed doors to seek a way out of a dispute that Republicans said showed Democrats led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi had backed down on promises of openness and disclosure made when they took power last January.
Democrats had hoped this week to pass four of the 12 annual bills that pay for federal operations beginning Oct. 1. Instead, Republicans have offered 116 amendments to a $37.4 billion Homeland Security spending bill — the first of the bills on the floor — in a bid to stall it. And on Tuesday they offered repeated motions to adjourn the House, each requiring a vote, keeping a wary House in session until 2:10 a.m. Wednesday.

Democrats argued Republicans were engaging in partisan attacks to try to embarrass Pelosi. They charged the GOP lawmakers lacked credibility on earmarks, the number of which exploded during their 12 years of House rule.
But Republicans cried foul over a plan by Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., for the House to pass all of the dozen spending bills without any earmarks.

Obey said House members from both parties — even while expressing concern about rising government spending — had inundated his committee with 33,000 earmark requests. He said it would take the committee’s staff four weeks to study all those pork barrel requests and pare them to a manageable level.

Obey proposed to put the earmarks into the bill as the House prepares to confer with the Senate to reconcile the two chambers’ different versions of the spending bills. Obey promised to disclose the list of the earmarks a month before such a conference, which Democrats hope to hold by late summer, so members and the public will have time to scrutinize and react to the projects.





Chaplains Try To Convert Vet

14 06 2007

It should be clear to everyone by now that the Evangelical, radical right-wing has seized control of much of the military. There have been horror stories for years about how non-Christians have been abused at the service academies. The NavyTimes recently ran an article about a Navy veteran and Orthodox Jew who sought treatment at his local VA hospital, and was repeated proselytized by the chaplains in an effort to convert him. This is absolutely outrageous behavior, and completely unacceptable in a branch of the federal government.

Navy vet: Chaplains tried converting me

By William Petroski – The Des Moines Register
Posted : Monday May 14, 2007 12:35:14 EDT

Navy veteran David Miller said that when he checked into the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City, he didn’t realize he would get a hard sell for Christian fundamentalism along with treatment for his kidney stones.

Miller, 46, an Orthodox Jew, said he was repeatedly proselytized by hospital chaplains and staff in attempts to convert him to Christianity during three hospitalizations over the past two years.

He said he went hungry each time because the hospital wouldn’t serve him kosher food, and the staff refused to contact his rabbi, who could have brought him something to eat.

Miller, an Iowa City resident and former petty officer third class who spent four years in the Navy, outlined his complaints at a news conference in Des Moines on Thursday. The event was sponsored by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an activist group based in Albuquerque, N.M.

He described the Iowa City facility as an institution permeated by government sponsorship of fundamentalist Christianity and unconstitutional discrimination against Jews.

Miller has been classified as 100 percent disabled because of chronic painful problems with kidney stones, and he has repeatedly visited the center as a patient and outpatient.

The hospital’s chaplains and staff, Miller said, have the attitude that you either accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior and you are saved, or you are damned.

He said he has tried to resolve the problems with the hospital’s administration without success.

“I am not trying to get rid of the chaplain corps,” Miller said. “When I was in the Navy, I was a religious program specialist. I worked with Christian chaplains, and I believe in the value of the chaplain corps, but not using it to bludgeon people, for heaven’s sake.”

Kirt Sickels, a spokesman for the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City, said the facility’s administrators take Miller’s allegations seriously.

“We will look into these concerns that Mr. Miller is talking about. The Iowa City VA respects the rights to religious beliefs for every patient. If they have a request for any kind of religious needs, we try to accommodate whatever those needs or beliefs might be.”

Kosher meals are available to Jewish VA patients in Iowa City, Sickels said.

Michael Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and an attorney who worked in the White House under President Reagan, said Thursday that he is preparing to sue the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in federal court over Miller’s treatment. He said he suspects other veterans have been treated similarly and that Miller’s case could become a class-action lawsuit.

“He has been in the situation where clearly his faith — which happens to be the Jewish faith — is the wrong faith for the Veterans Administration,” said Weinstein, an Air Force Academy graduate.

Miller, a divorced father with four sons, said his first two visits by chaplains involved attempts to convert him to Christianity. These visits occurred while he was suffering acute chest pains and was wired to a heart monitor, he said.

When he complained, he said a hospital official told him he simply needed to object more strenuously to terminate such proselytizing. Miller said he considered such a request to be ridiculous, considering his medical problems.

Over the past two years, Miller said, he has been asked over and over by the Iowa City VA medical center’s staff within its offices, clinics and wards, “You mean you don’t believe that Jesus is the Messiah?” and “Is it just Orthodox Jews who deny Jesus?” He said one staffer told him, “I don’t understand; how can you not believe in Jesus; he’s the Messiah of the Jews, too, you know.”

Sickels said it is standard practice within hospitals nationwide to conduct a spiritual assessment of each patient upon admission. Ministry and pastoral counseling are available, but “it is always the patient’s right to decline any of these services.”

David Brown, an Assemblies of God minister who is a chaplain at the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Medical Center, declined to comment when reached by a reporter Thursday afternoon.

Miller said the Christian influence at the Iowa City medical facility is so pervasive that he couldn’t even escape it in a patient waiting room. He described how an elderly couple played a keyboard and sang hymns, such as “The Old Rugged Cross,” much to the delight of Christian veterans waiting for doctor’s appointments.

“It was driving me nuts, and they were enjoying it. I was not going to go in front of all of these people and say, ‘Hey, will you stop?’ and then have all the other veterans turn on me. They were setting me up to be further ostracized. It was just ridiculous.”





Cindy Sheehan Steps Down

29 05 2007

Cidy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq, has written a letter announcing her intention to step away from the anti-war movement after enduring years of horrid accusations, smears, and blatant character assassination.

She made some mistakes during her time in the spotlight — like avoiding meeting with Cuban dissidents on her trip to that island — but all she wanted was for President Bush to explain why her young son had to die. Bush — the heartless warmonger — never granted her request. After playing a victim to the right wing, the left wing started in on her when she began to criticize the Democrats for failing to take advantage of their mandate.

What a tragedy. All brought on by a vile President and a corrupt and fascist administration that has done more damage to our nation than any other presidential administration in the history of the United States.





War Memorial Runs Out of Room

6 05 2007

In a clear example of hyper-optimism and a failure to recognize reality, a memorial constructed by Republicans to honor the fallen soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq has run out room for more names!

Pathetic.

An excerpt from FortWayne.com:

Memorial honoring fallen soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan runs out of room

By Frank Davies

San Jose Mercury News

WASHINGTON – Congress already has run out of space on a memorial created last year to honor all of the U.S. service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a grim sign of the times, the “Wall of the Fallen,” set up by House Republican leaders in June, is almost full. The mounting death toll from Iraq has forced U.S. House staffers to study how to reconfigure the display in the lobby of the Rayburn Building – the largest office building for members of Congress – to squeeze in more names.

According to the Defense Department, 3,736 U.S. service members died in the two wars by the end of April. New names are added to the display every few months, but none have been added since November. The last name listed is Lance Cpl. Luke Holler, 21-year-old Marine reservist from Bulverde, Texas, killed by an explosive device on Nov. 2.

In the current format, there is space for about 130 more names, but 506 Americans have died since mid-November. In April, 104 Americans were killed in the war’s sixth-deadliest month.

With a fierce debate raging over Iraq in Congress as President Bush resists the Democrats’ push for a timetable for troop withdrawal, the wall has taken on symbolic importance to some members.

“It’s just another example of how pathetically unprepared and unrealistic the supporters of this war have been,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a San Jose Democrat and member of the Administration Committee that oversees operations in House buildings.

Rep. Vernon Ehlers, the Michigan Republican who chaired the committee last summer, said members and staffers “simply wanted to do something to honor those who had made this sacrifice.”

“This is so sad,” Delahunt said. “This states so poignantly and ironically that we never thought about needing extra space. The concept of the wall is laudable, but no one wanted to think about how many more soldiers would die.”

© 2007, San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.).





The Bush of the Past

1 05 2007

From Politicalwire.com:

Historical Quotes of the Day

“Victory means exit strategy, and it’s important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is.”

— George W. Bush, 4/9/99, criticizing President Clinton for not setting a timetable for exiting Kosovo.

“I think it’s also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn.”

— George W. Bush, 6/5/99





DC Madam 1, Bush Official, 0

28 04 2007

The Washington, D.C. Madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, released her client lists to ABCNews, which I am sure has scared half of official Washington (and delighted the other half). I cannot wait for more names to come out. On Friday, State Department official (and Bush appointee) Randall Tobias resigned when he was outed as a client!

More to come, I hope!

An excerpt, from Yahoo! News::

Bush official resigns over escort links
By ANNE GEARAN, AP Diplomatic Writer
Sat Apr 28, 8:10 AM ET

WASHINGTON – Randall Tobias, head of the Bush administration’s foreign aid programs, abruptly resigned Friday after his name surfaced in an investigation into a high-priced call-girl ring, said two people in a position to know the circumstances of his departure.

It was Tobias’ own decision to resign, according to one of the people, who said the issue came up only in the past day or so. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way.
Tobias submitted his resignation a day after he was interviewed by ABC News for an upcoming program about an alleged prostitution service run by the so-called D.C. Madam.

ABC reported on its Web site late Friday that Tobias confirmed that he had called the Pamela Martin and Associates escort service to have women come to his condo and give him massages. More recently, Tobias told the network, he has been using a service with Central American women.

Tobias, 65, who is married, told ABC News there had been “no sex” during the women’s visits to his condo. His name was on a list of clients given to ABC by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who owns the escort service and has been charged with running a prostitution ring in the nation’s capital.

Friday evening, the State Department put out a statement announcing Tobias’ resignation, saying he “informed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today that he must step down as Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator effective immediately.”

“He is returning to private life for personal reasons,” the statement said.

Tobias held two titles: director of U.S. foreign assistance and administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development. His rank was equivalent to deputy secretary of state.

Rice named Tobias to head the two programs in January 2006, and on Wednesday was at the White House, where President Bush praised his efforts coordinating global AIDS relief. Tobias had been the White House’s coordinator for global AIDS relief before taking the USAID post.